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Archive for October, 2013

“You’re beautiful, but you’re empty…One couldn’t die for you. Of course, an ordinary passer-by would think my rose looked just like you. But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

This is one of the most compelling extracts from a novel which uncovers such detail about human behaviour and how our perceptions of our lives forms the basis of our life trajectory. The Prince and his Rose have always represented for me the need to find what you are passionate about and invest in that love and passion to make your life worth living.  If you have noticed the dormancy of my activity on here, it is because of my recent apathy. A year that was started by me with so much fervour and passion has dwindled to an apathetic state from which I need respite. Today I seem to have gotten it from the unlikeliest of sources. Facebook.

I dislike Facebook. You wouldn’t know that by looking at my profile as I am constantly online, but I dislike it A LOT. Why? Here’s a few reasons why

  1. It’s killing privacy. There is no such thing as the public and private sphere anymore. I wonder what Habermas would have to say about Facebook. At a global level the CIA use it to ‘do their thing’ (not getting into ‘what’ it is that they do. That’s a story for another day) Here’s the video that explains it if you haven’t seen it yet. At a local level, every ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle’ is now on Facebook and wants to be your friend so conversations like this can happen:
    Mum – Who is [insert random guys name]?
    Me – A friend. why?
    Mum – You went to the same lecture as him?
    Me – Yes but why? and how do you know?
    Mum – [insert random name] aunty told me that she saw on your fb that you were tagged in a photo with him.
    And at a personal level, we are all now at risk of oversharing and becoming the annoying people we like to whinge about. See if you can find your fb self in one of the profiles articulated here.
  2. It’s bad for the economy. When ONE person earns a record $2.3 BILLION a year and more than half the world is dying of hunger, poverty, warfare or all three at once, it really makes you wonder at how your tacit involvement is helping this world go to ruin. It’s easy to dismiss your contribution as minute, but it is our collective minute contribution that is widening that gap between the rich and the poor and creating a discrepency in the division of wealth in society, a precursor to much of the issues plaguing society at large.
  3. It’s a waste of time. More than a third of women check facebook first thing in the morning and while this study is old and no doubt the figures have risen significantly since, its not hard to beleive that more and more of us are wasting more of our time on facebook with no visible benefits. We check our fb several times a day, in the middle of the night, even before we go to the bathroom in the mornings. Why? What could possibly be happening that you are missing out on? That is more important than your sleep? your time with family? your time to LIVE your life yourself and not through the voracious mastication of vapid fb status updates from other people. I recently deactivated FB and it was one of the best things I did with my time… because it let me have MORE time. (I am back on FB now but read on to find out why this is ok)
  4. It causes depression. Facebook users are more and more lonely. Articles like this used to make me think the authors were silly to write that people actually let online updates affect their sense of self. But then I realised I do too. I do THIS. I think I am entitled to more than I deserve because people on my facebook show me that their world is unicorns and rainbows and I inevitably compare. Those carefully filtered, posied and cropped pictures hide the rain that came before the rainbow and the crap that the unicorn leaves behind. It creates a sense of rejection, despondency and fear in us that we would otherwise not experience had we a more rounded insight into the lives of those we ‘befriend’. Facebook allows us to ‘befriend’ more than we would ever do in person and the larger our circle of ‘friends’ become the more at risk we are to falling off the proverbial facebook cliff like a lemming looking for the pot of gold in the form of that perfect facebook status update to outdo all the ones in our newsfeed.

THIS is why I dislike Facebook. But today, this morning – I opened my fb app and my newsfeed did something – it educated me. It inspired me. and It made me shake off my cloak of apathy and put on the cloak I always wanted to wear – the one that will let me save the world. I don’t open FB to read news, I have my news apps and google for that, but almost every second post on my newsfeed today was a newsarticle or some sort of article that had me thinking, moving out of comfortable position as the couch potato in my brain and realising that the time to act is NOW. I read that in a recent study, 78% of a group of Facebook news consumers gets news on the social network while they are there for other purposes, such as catching up with friends or sharing photos.

This morning my fb feed gave me these:

  • Brand’s article and interview  supposedly sparked a ‘revolution’. I disliked Brand. I disliked his alter egos, his crude, brash, self destructive and womanising ways made for good ‘bad tv’ and a ridiculous role model for an impressionable youth. And then I read his article. His ability to articulate himself on a level far beyond the hollow celebirty he is made out to be is impressive on a singular level. There are so many many quotes in his article and his interview that spur in me a fervour for change and revolution that it is impossible to list them all here. I would encourage you to read his article and listen to the interview. I hope his realisation that “Profit is the most profane word we have. In its pursuit we have forgotten that while individual interests are being met, we as a whole are being annihilated. The reality, when not fragmented through the corrupting lens of elitism, is we are all on one planet” will lead him to find Islam and sees that it answers every question he has. Till then he is singing the same lines as The Who say it best in their lyrics for “Won’t get fooled again”

There’s nothing in the street
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Is now the parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

  • Praying in public – Pulling out of self-inflicted (or life-inflicted) apathy is made all the more easier when you see things like this and things like the Modest Street Fashion project by Langstone Hughes. Singular individuals enacting change and revolution in their own way in their own capacity to act to create and precipitate a collective revolution is all around us in so many ways and forms. It’s only a matter of being open to people and fiding your own space to catalyse your own revolution.
  • Reza Aslan talks about Palestine and Israel – Reza Aslan is a Muslim. Yes, he has four degrees and a PhD in religious studies and over a decades worth of knowledge, skills and expertise in all forms of religion and religious scripts but hes ‘a Muslim’. This is only ONE of the many speeches on youtube that are a must watch – this guy speaks the truth with frankness, sincerity and a sprinkling of sarcasm. My only criticism of him would have to be where he likens hadith to ‘stories and retellings’ and discounts their validity in contention with history. Mate, it’s called His-Story for a reason. If you discount the hadith of Rasul SAW then discounting some ‘facts’ written up by a white supremacy and handed around as ‘history’ is just as easy. But still. Beyond that – I like his work. I love that Aslan says, Prophets did not create religions, their followers did. Prophets are reformers. their job is to take the religious and cultural milieu and challenge it. This is what we must all do in our own capacity. Because all the religions and all the Prophets have the same goal and the same message. To live in harmony and peace and spread the love beyond your own lifetime in whatever capacity you can. He tells it like it is and his frank statements calling for a revolution, calling for a change, calling for people to stand up and take the future of our collective forward as a whole is reminiscent of Brand (in a more stately academic way of course!).
  • Mark Twain’s Top 9 Tips for Living a Kick-Ass Life – It’s everything we’ve been told before, but the more I read the more I realise how little I know. This is great advice and should be a reminder of who we want to become to become who we want to be.
  • 20 Pictures that will warm your heart – In a world where Rape occurs almost as frequently as a birth (don’t quote me), pictures like these restore the faith in humanity that we all need instilled in us if we are to care about our surroundings and our future generations enough to take a stand and make a change. A great reminder of the community and the love we are working to retain and restore.
  • Amazing quote from a Random NYer for HONY – Brandon (photographer behind Humans of New York(HONY)) asked her to tell him something about Nonviolent disobedience and she said, “Nonviolent disobedience is strategic for many reasons.  One, it’s an important way to attract attention and compassion from the international community.  Also, it’s the only type of response that can include the entire community.  Violence is more exclusive, and can only happen in pockets.  Nonviolence can involve everyone, and can help leave behind a sense of community after the objectives of the disobedience have been met.” We are at our most basic a body in which a soul craves to meet its Maker. We wander through life trying to fill that hole in our hearts with materialism, consumerism, Love, idealism and shoes. In doing so we become apathetic, immoral, despondent and most of all angry. And anger makes us violent. Controlling that anger, channelling it through strategic disobedience is much much more rewarding, constructive and adhesive in pulling together the collective for your cause than a whack over the head. She says what Prophet Muhammed, Gandhi and Martin Luther King have all said and DONE before her… to great success. Strategic non violent disobedience is telling of a collective which encourages cohesion and change in a non threatening way to ignite revolution and create the utopia we all crave.

And much much more. And I realised that while Facebook has its shortocmings, like every other invention of man – it is a tool that can be used to great benefit, should I chose to do so. When man invented Fire – he could use it to warm himself and cook his food or he could use it to wreak havoc and destruction. Aeons later, the same holds for all other ‘discoveries’ and inventions – there is two sides to each coin.

Beyond my choices of deactivating my fb and living in ignorance of the great wealth of information out there, or immersing myself so wholly in living through the status updates of my friends, that my own life passes me by… there is a third option. The option to recognise the tool for its capabilities and use it only in so far as it is useful for you. Facebook for me, has evolved from merely a stream of what my friends had for lunch and their outfits of the day, to a stream of updates on life, education, world events, politics, charity and education. My friends circle has been carefully cultivated so that when I am on fb I am learning, I am growing, I am being inspired and affected to shake off the apathy and live not only in the real world where my feet touch the ground, but in the online world where I can reach out and touch another person’s heart and mind with my words.  I can live there and make a great life for myself, if only I am passionate and intelligent about how I do so.

So how do I do so? How does reading articles linked on Facebook and ‘sharing’ them with friends catalyse change in the real world? I read somewhere that “one’s search for answers can be more important than the answers themselves”. The answer to this is to go on that journey. To find what you are passionate about and articulate it, pursue it, paint it into your reality and onto your facebook – so that one day we actualise our longing for the meaning of life by filling that hole in our hearts with love and contentment… in a private and public sphere that would make Habermas proud.

One Republic got it right in their lyrics for “Goodbye Apathy”

So goodbye apathy
(As I’m trying)
So long fancy free
(Just to keep things right)
Goodbye apathy, I don’t wanna be you
(Kill  myself to make everything perfect for you)

Go out there. Find your Rose. Love it. Cherish it. Water it. Protect it. And say Goodbye to Apathy for YOU are the change you wish to see. In the words of Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65 BC – 8 BC) in his Odes, “Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero” which translates to “Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next day/future.” Rush towards your future and enjoy the Journey – for sometimes it is far more telling than the answer waiting at the end.

I don’t walk right, not like I used to
There’s a jump in my  step as I rush to see you
I could be happy here as long as you’re near to me
As long as you’re close to me

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